Israel Public Relations Advice
NEW YORK, Jan. 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Public Relations executive Ronn Torossian released the following book excerpt from his best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release” regarding Israel’s PR, especially relevant against the backdrop of Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s recent comments. This week, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that Israel will face intense campaigns to label it an apartheid state in 2022.
“We think that in the coming year, there will be debate that is unprecedented in its venom and in its radioactivity around the words ‘Israel as an apartheid state,’” Lapid said during a Zoom briefing with Israeli journalists. Lapid called the accusation that Israel is an apartheid state “a despicable lie.”
Against that backdrop, Public Relations executive Ronn Torossian released the following book excerpt from his best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release” regarding Israel’s PR, especially relevant against the backdrop of Lapid’s comments.
“The state of Israel is, for me, a personal passion, and with love I will say that Israel does a horrible job when it comes to PR. The simple message that Israel is a tiny, democratic country surrounded by murderous despots doesn’t get through—not to governments, the media, or the public. Case in point: Many people don’t understand the difference in size between all of the Arab states and the Jewish state. The total area of the state of Israel is 8,019 square miles, and it’s surrounded by Arab nations—Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—and the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt alone covers an area of 386,662 square miles. Israel has a population of about 8.3 million people, and the Arab nations surrounding her total 428 million people.”
Everyone can relate to concepts about distance and size, such as the fact that Israel is the size of New Jersey and is completely surrounded by much larger countries with huge swaths of land and bigger populations who would like to see the tiny country destroyed. Still, the media worldwide writes of the “Jewish settlements” and “West Bank” as key conflicts between the Arabs and Israel. Leaving aside the perspective of just how tiny these areas actually are, or that Israel won them in a defensive war that started before there were any so-called “occupied territories,” is like blaming a flea for a pit bull’s aggressive behavior.
The state of Israel puts itself in danger because of its flawed public relations and communications work. In contrast, terrorist organizations Hamas, Hezbollah, and certain Arab nations have hired PR agencies to lobby for them in the press and on the world stage. Terror groups have engaged reporters and journalists, share meals with them, drink with them, and win their favor. Israel doesn’t even pay for its diplomatic employees to use cell phones after hours or on weekends—a necessity in today’s 24/7 media world—because of archaic and bureaucratic rules.
Israel’s PR has gotten better in recent years, but it can still do better at framing the debate by using more spokespeople who are fluent in the English language. Israel regularly sends diplomats who don’t speak the native language to other countries. That means there is still much that can be done to fight and influence. It’s a question of shaping concepts and of speaking in terms and metaphors that the world understands. Look at what happens when private investors legally buy property in eastern Jerusalem and legally build homes for Jews. An Internet search reveals that the media see such construction as evidence of Jewish “occupation” and a primary reason why there will never be peace in the Middle East. Why not create messaging about how a Jewish person can legally build a home and live anywhere in the world — except Israel? Jews can buy and build in Harlem or East Los Angeles, Paris, or Moscow, but not in Jerusalem. They can buy real estate and coexist elsewhere—why not there? That is the message Israel should be sending.
Israel, like any country (or brand or business) needs to make its own case, and cannot depend on others to do this work. The advice I have for Israel stands for any organization or group with an “underdog” status or that is suffering the consequences of being misunderstood. The following points are useful for any brand or business that wants to control its own narrative:
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, one of America’s leading PR firms.
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SOURCE 5W Public Relations